Jennifer Ward

Year: 2020
Location: Grande Prairie
Profile: Jennifer Ward is a member of the United Nurses of Alberta and has worked as a Registered Nurse on the psychiatric unit at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie for more than 20 years. She has a Masters Degree in Nursing and currently holds a First Vice President executive position for UNA Local 37 in Grande Prairie.
            She describes her early psychiatric nursing experience as building relationships with people first being diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in their late teens. Knowing them in a relatively small centre helped in connecting with and caring for them in with mental health challenges throughout their lives. She notes the increasing use of drugs in general in the population creates new challenges in mental health assessment. The growth of a transient work force in the Grande Prairie region has also meant that her unit is less likely to have a prior relationship with a new patient and to know whether that person has a history of aggression.
            She describes staff shortages and the increasing aggression nurses have faced in recent years. In a 2011 incident, nurses invoked their right to refuse unsafe work in dealing with a particularly violent patient. UNA supported the nurses and the nurses’ actions resulted in increased security measures as well as additional security staff added to the unit.
Keywords: Addictions; Grande Prairie; Mental Health; Occupational Health and Safety; Psychiatric nursing; Right to refuse unsafe work; United Nurses of Alberta; Violence in the workplace.
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